Boat accident survivor talks about terrifying ordeal, dramatic rescue

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Her dramatic rescue Monday afternoon was captured on camera by the U.S. Coast Guard. Whitney Navas, 22, was plucked from the chilly waters of the Mississippi Sound and pulled to safety onto a helicopter.

"We have been touched by an angel," said Whitney Navas. "I mean, we had went 25 hours and didn't see not one boat, not one plane.  Didn't see nothing.  Nobody.  No land, trees.  Just water.  And then to actually see a helicopter right in front of you. You just wanted to hug everybody and cry."

Navas' husband, Jonathan, and two friends were also rescued after their boat capsized a few miles from Horn Island.  Their friend, Ocean Springs Police officer Stephen Bond, is still missing.

"Very panicked, because you see that stuff in movies and you never think that's going to happen to you," said Navas.  "But I mean it was true life. You had to grab a life vest and try to stay calm."

During those long hours filled with fear and uncertainty, Navas says her husband helped keep her hopes up. The couple married just five weeks ago.

"I think he said he was ordering six large pizzas when we got home, and just talked about how 'We ain't been married very long.  We can't go out like this,'" Navas recalled with a smile.

Navas prayed for a miracle. Then, out of nowhere, a helicopter appeared.

"We already took our life vests off, waving them in the air, hoping they'd see the orange.  We were screaming and crying and holding each other. We're going home.  We're going home," said Navas.

Navas is grateful to be alive and thankful to be back on land.

"It will make you appreciate yourself more to know that you're not untouchable.  Anything can happen to you," she said.  "Blessed. Very blessed. I didn't think this many people cared.  But I'm glad to be stable.  Be still and not on the water."

Navas says it'll be a long time before she gets back on a boat, if ever. She and the other survivors are keeping their hopes up that Ocean Springs Police Officer Stephen Bond will be found alive.

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